28 February 1997
Memoir by Michael S. Usey
The trick of living well may be knowing when to do what. There is a time for everything under the sun, the writer of Ecclesiastes said. There is a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep silent, and a time to speak and a time to keep silent. It takes wisdom and strength of character and insight to know what time it is. We are gathered here to be silent, so great is the mystery of life and death, and to speak--about Al, about his life, and the things that were true and good and right in him that reminded us of God. We are here to seek Al's essence, the parts of him that were a unique blend, and to mourn the loss of his presence with us.
Al seemed to know that there was a time for everything in life. There was a time in his life for war; he fought in World War II. As a young man, he serviced in the Armed Forces. Al knew about the horrors of war, and he knew that he was fortunate to be alive. There was a time in Al's life for peace, and he used it well to study. He went to Elon College, completing four years of course work in three. From Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania, Al loved the Piedmont of North Carolina from the first time he saw it, and vowed to stay.
Al knew there was a time for work, and how to work very, very hard. Al was from that generation that knew how to work hard, and knew that hard work was one of the keys to success in life. As the founder and owner of Hallmark Interiors, he was a perfectionist, a trait that came in handy in his line of work. Having to be the middle-man between home-owners, builders, and manufactures, it paid to be a perfectionist, to do things right the first time.
Al Terzino also knew the time to be happy. He might have been happiest when he was with his friends, laughing, clowning around, being jolly. Al loved to laugh; he loved to flirt; in fact, he was a big flirt. That is one of the things that made him so enjoyable to be around. He loved people; he was a member of the Masons, the Elk's club, the Greensboro Jaycees, the Young Businessmen's Club, Sedgefield Country Club, Forest Oaks Country Club, and the Greensboro City Club. All these clubs, because Al was social man, who loved people. I remember meeting him after an Advent service: he loved to talk; he was a gifted conversationist, striking up conversations with everyone he met including waitresses and service people.
Al also knew that there was a time to be generous. He loved to help others in need. He reached out to young people, advising them on what would be helpful to them in business, hiring them at a fair wage, training them, and supporting their learning. He helped Ray learn the entire business, and Ray was like a son to him. He taught them to be fair, a lesson he had learned as an Italian Catholic in North Carolina at a time in which there was still a lot of prejudice against Catholics. Builders sought out his business and wanted to work with Al because he was fair and honest, in a business without a lot of honest people.
There is a time to mourn and a time to dance. Al knew when to dance. He loved to dance at Green's and other places, with the wonderful music of the 1950s. Eva remembers one of the last times they danced together, slowly and sweetly.
One of my favorite stories of Al is the way he helped Eva with her mother. Al went with Eva almost everyday to feed her mother. He helped Eva turn her and with her mother's care and hygiene. When Bea Andrews fell, Al had his men install a shower bar and a seat for her to use. He also install new carpet for Bea, completely free, so that Bea could walk easier. This is the kind of man Al was. No doubt many of you, who knew him better than I, could relate story after story of Al's generosity. All that remains of us here after we die is the love we've had for God and other people. Al's generous acts we will not soon forget.
For everything there is a season, a time for every matter under heaven;
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance ...
Now it is our time to weep and to mourn Al's passing, for many will surely miss him. Yet, in the midst of all our grief, it is also time to remember who Al was, his work and ways, and his laughter, and to thank God for having know him.
That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already is; and God seeks out what has gone by.